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Customs officials seize 11th century Buddha statue being smuggled from Bengaluru to Denmark

Customs officials catch smuggler at Bengaluru airport with a rare 11th Century Buddha statue and other artefacts.

Customs officials have seized a rare 11th Century Buddha statue and other artefacts that were being smuggled from Bengaluru to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

According to a Times of India report, Customs officials intercepted the consignment containing the Buddha statue and seven other antique pieces including an ancient bronze mask and a wooden horse from the Inland Container Depot at Whitefield in the city.  The consignment had been booked by a Danish national and was being passed off as containing “contemporary artefacts.”

However, Customs officials got suspicious and decided to investigate the matter with the help of ASI experts. A close examination revealed that the stone statue of the Buddha was a rare 11th century antique. The bronze mask and wooden carvings of a leaping horse and that of a man and a woman are more than 200 years old. ASI experts are of the view that the artefacts depict the ancient culture of coastal Karnataka.

The smuggling of these invaluable ancient artefacts has been a major  problem and the Narendra Modi-led government has in recent years brought several of these precious artefacts back to the country.

PM Modi during his recent visit to the US was assured by the Joe Biden administration that 150 stolen artefacts would be returned by the US over the next three to six months.

The issue of ‘Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property’ was also discussed  at the G20 Culture Group meeting at Karnataka’s Hampi on Sunday.

The UNESCO convention of 1970 enjoins on signatory parties to voluntarily return those artefacts or antiquities belonging to other countries which have been taken there because of colonial plunder, or because of post-colonial misappropriation like smuggling, theft etc.